BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuLaryngeal nerve damageVocal cord paralysisLaryngeal nerve damage is injury to one or both of the nerves that are attached to the voice box. Causes Injury to the laryngeal nerves is uncommon.When it does occur, it can be from:A complication of neck or chest surgery (especially thyroid, lung, heart surgery, or cervical spine surgery) A breathing tube in the windpipe (endotracheal tube) A viral infection that affects the nerves Tumors in the neck or upper chest, such as thyroid or lung cancer ThyroidThyroid cancer is a cancer that starts in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located inside the front of your lower neck.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Lung cancerLung cancer is cancer that starts in the lungs. The lungs are located in the chest. When you breathe, air goes through your nose, down your windpipe...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Part of a neurological condition Neck or chest trauma Symptoms Symptoms include:Difficulty speaking Difficulty swallowing HoarsenessInjury to the left and right laryngeal nerves at the same time can cause a breathing problem. This can be an urgent medical problem. Exams and Tests The health care provider will check to see how your vocal cords move. Abnormal movement may mean that a laryngeal nerve is injured.Tests may include:Bronchoscopy BronchoscopyBronchoscopy is a test to view the airways and diagnose lung disease. It may also be used during the treatment of some lung conditions.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article CT scan of the chest CT scanA computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create pictures of cross-sections of the body. Related tests include:Abdomin...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Laryngoscopy LaryngoscopyLaryngoscopy is an exam of the voice box (larynx). It can be done using a small mirror held just below the back of your palate, or a rigid or flexib...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article MRI of the brain, neck, and chest MRIA magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the body. It does not us...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article X-rayX-rayX-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, just like visible light. An x-ray machine sends individual x-ray particles through the body. The im...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Treatment Treatment depends on the cause of the injury. In some cases, no treatment may be needed and the nerve may recover on its own. Voice therapy is useful in some cases.If surgery is needed, the goal is to change the position of the paralyzed vocal cord to improve the voice. This can be done with:Arytenoid adduction (stitches to move the vocal cord toward the middle of the airway) Injections of collagen, Gelfoam, or another substance Thyroplasty If both the left and right nerves are damaged, a hole may need to be cut into the windpipe (tracheotomy) right away to allow breathing. This is followed by another surgery at a later date. Outlook (Prognosis) The outlook depends on the cause of the injury. In some cases, the nerve rapidly returns to normal. However, sometimes the damage is permanent. When to Contact a Medical Professional Call your provider if you have:Difficulty breathing (call right away) Unexplained hoarseness that lasts for more than 3 weeks Open ReferencesReferencesDexter EU. Perioperative care of the thoracic surgical patient. In: Sellke FW, del Nido PJ, Swanson SJ, eds. Sabiston and Spencer Surgery of the Chest. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 4.Nouraei SAR, Sandhu GS. Laryngeal and esophageal trauma. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 66.Woodson G. Pathophysiology of recurrent laryngeal nerve injury. In: Randolph GW, ed. Surgery of the Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 42.AllVideoImagesTogNerves of the larynx - illustration Laryngeal nerve damage can be caused by injury, tumors, surgery, or infection. Damage to the nerves of the larynx can cause hoarseness, difficulty in swallowing or breathing, or the loss of voice. Treatment depends on the cause and extent of the laryngeal nerve damage.Nerves of the larynxillustrationLaryngeal nerve damage - illustration Damage to the laryngeal nerve can result in loss of voice or obstruction to breathing.Laryngeal nerve damageillustrationNerves of the larynx - illustration Laryngeal nerve damage can be caused by injury, tumors, surgery, or infection. Damage to the nerves of the larynx can cause hoarseness, difficulty in swallowing or breathing, or the loss of voice. Treatment depends on the cause and extent of the laryngeal nerve damage.Nerves of the larynxillustrationLaryngeal nerve damage - illustration Damage to the laryngeal nerve can result in loss of voice or obstruction to breathing.Laryngeal nerve damageillustrationRelated Information Thyroid nodule(Condition) Review Date: 12/31/2020 Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.